Politics and post-Covid slump are major challenges, say market giants

Left to right: Philipp Blum, CEO of Blum; Michael Egger Jr., CSO of Egger; Gregor Riekena, CEO of Häfele Group; and Manuela Leitner, head of communications at Egger

Industry bosses from Egger, Blum and Häfele have identified the current divisive political climate, as well as the end of post-Covid demand as some of the industry’s biggest ongoing market challenges.

These topics were raised at a press conference held last week at Egger’s headquarters in Tyrol, Austria. The conference was led by Egger’s chief sales officer, Michael Egger Jr, who was joined by Philipp Blum, chief executive officer of Blum, and Gregor Riekena, chief executive officer of Häfele Group.

Blum said that he believes that polarising political beliefs are holding back the industry from developing. He commented: “We can only move forwards together and the world can only gain the benefits of trade if we stick together. I think that globally, we are building fences between each other when really we need to be building bridges.”

Riekena at Häfele agreed, saying that without collaboration, the “market won’t have a future”. He discussed the problem of balancing profits generation with creating solutions, saying: “We need to make profit, but also come up with solutions as a wider community. We need this in family, business and politics, and then this has to be balanced economically.”

Blum also highlighted the challenges present in the market now that the post-Covid sales boom has passed as another significant factor in the industry’s struggling. “The post-Covid boom has caused a decline now, and that boosted market is beginning to break away,” he said, adding, “the situation is difficult, and is also leading to high costs. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with the cost situation going forwards”.

When asked what he felt was the solution to rising prices, he said that he feels “[the industry needs] to use common sense to reach consumers, in a way that’s not just aggressive pricing”.

The view inside the ‘Moving Tree’ micro-living concept

However, Egger also said he believed that although these issues are challenges for the industry, they also present opportunities for business leaders. “We need to look back at what happened and analyse that market. Certainly it was a situation of purchasing hype, so we can look at strategies such as having products ship in higher volumes going forwards.

“Opportunities are presenting themselves, but we have to grow and explore those together, although we are still far away from the costs we had before Covid. We need to see how economical new materials are, but also to use sustainable materials such as wood for as long as possible before discarding it.”

The overarching message of the conference was that despite these challenges, the industry still has a bright future, but all three speakers repeatedly emphasised that they believe this vision will only be realised through collaboration.

In addition to the conference, Egger also unveiled its Decorative Collection 24+, scheduled to hit the market in February. As well as this, Blum and Egger also unveiled their collaborative ‘Moving Tree’ prototype, which is a 6 x 1.5m concept space that embodies the values of compact living.

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